Seattle Culture

Seattle Culture


Seattle acts as a cultural center for the entire Pacific Northwest region. As the largest urban center in the 5 state area, Seattle has a fitting array of cultural activities. The Seattle Symphony Orchestra is world renowned, and both the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Seattle Opera are well known for doing great work. These are the most famous of the cultural activities in Seattle, but there are many others.

Seattle theater, like so much else in the city, is casual and fun. The 5th Avenue Theater is well known for its large Broadway-style shows. Other well-known theater groups include the Seattle Repertory Theater, the Seattle Children’s Theater, and ACT. Much of the theater is concentrated in the downtown and Lower Queen Anne neighborhoods, though there are a few offshoots, such as Theater Schmeater in Capitol Hill and Taproot in Greenwood.

Seattle’s music scene is renowned, starting with the famed Quincy Jones. Following in Jones’ footsteps at Garfield High School was Jimi Hendrix, who left his mark on Seattle and can be seen on the corner of Broadway and Pine in bust statue form. The next big wave of musicians came out of Seattle in what is known as the ‘Grunge’ era, and included Nirvana, the most famous of the time from Seattle, as well as Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Mudhoney. By the time the Grunge period had passed and the city had moved on, former grunge success record label Sub-Pop was ready to liven up the scene with a new Seattle sound. Bands like Presidents of the United States of America, Modest Mouse and Death Cab for Cutie defined the new, more upbeat, pop-style sound of the city. Seattle also is home to a small hip-hop community, whose most famous alumnus is Sir Mix-A-Lot. Great radio stations support Seattle’s great music scene. For a while there were numerous independent radio stations supporting local music. While most of those have been bought out or faded away, KEXP is still around. It is a non-profit, public radio station, entirely supported by the community. It has gained much renown around the country and now is simulcast in New York, in addition to its live-stream internet feed.

Seattle celebrates its musicians and artists of all types in two large annual festivals at Seattle Center. The Northwest Folklife Festival, which occurs over Memorial Day weekend and is geared towards folk arts and music, and Bumbershoot, over Labor Day weekend, a broader arts festival of all stripes.

The most widely known outside the area Seattle arts festival might not be either of those, but rather the Seattle International Film Festival. The large film festival draws in numerous award-winning movies and brings the occasional celebrity to town. The festival occurs annually in late spring.

Seattle’s cultural offerings also include professional sports teams. While the city lost its beloved (and one time world champion) Seattle Supersonics, it still has an NFL team that has a huge following, the Seattle Seahawks and a baseball team, the Mariners. The latest entry to Seattle’s pro sports team collection is the incredibly popular, incredibly successful Seattle Sounders, a professional soccer team.



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